Thanks to its $4.4 billion in Road Home settlements last year, New Orleans is again among the top three metro areas in the U.S. for personal income growth. The Advocate today reported that two Mississippi metros, Pascagoula and Gulfport-Biloxi, ranked first and second. However, Louisiana's two centers of energy exploration, Lafayette and Houma, show promising evidence of long-term growth that is not related to hurricane assistance checks.

Yesterday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released 2007 personal income numbers for the nation’s 363 metro areas, with signs of a slowing U.S. economy: Growth slowed but was still positive in 208 metros. It accelerated in 144 others and stayed the same in 11.

The Advocate reported that Baton Rouge per capita personal income grew 6 percent in 2007, slightly faster than the national average of 5.2 percent, while Houma (10.8 percent), Lake Charles (10.7 percent) and Lafayette (7.6 percent) grew faster. New Orleans (14.9 percent, after 2006’s insurance settlement-aided growth of 102 percent) trailed only Pascagoula (17.2 percent) and Gulfport-Biloxi (16.9 percent) in the nation.

Per capita personal income gives a clearer picture of growth, because it links the changes in income to changes in population. For personal income, the federal BEA counts all income from all sources, not just wages, salaries and interest, but also transfer payments such as The Road Home settlements and insurance settlements related to hurricanes.

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